Which Youth Team Players will make the 1st Team Squad?

April 6, 2016

On Monday night I watched a really enjoyable FA Youth Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Man City.

First the bad news. We lost on aggregate and MC had the best two players on the pitch. Brahim Diaz and Manu Garcia, both Spanish, were a constant danger and showed why they are so highly rated.

But we are not interested in the worrying success of the Northern Oilers youth policy, what we want to know is are our chaps any good?

Well, it is hard to assess based upon just 90+ minutes. Some fared better than others.

Starting at the back, I was impressed by the keeper, Keto. Finnish,  6’3″ and athletic. He looked assured made some good stops. Do Finns make good keepers? I know they like a drink, fishing , ski-ing and Sibelius.

Centre backs are always of interest because the last time one came through the ranks seems a long time ago. Bola and Beilik are highly thought of, Bola got sent off and made little impression but Bielik looks a player. Mobile, powerful and with an eye for a pass he may well be the man who progresses from the defence. He is normally a DM but is being played at CB to learn his trade, this became clear as he was out of position too often for my liking but nonetheless was our stand-out defender.

The full backs, Robinson and Johnson looked typical Wenger FB’s – fast, concentrated upon getting forward and thus open to the counter-attack.

In midfield Bennacer impressed. A French Youth international, he reminded me of Samir Nasri in his play.

A very young man named Nelson (could his nickname be Lord?) did well against older players. He has Wengerball  – power, control, pace and always looking to pass the ball forward. An England U-16 regular he is highly rated at AFC.

I was looking forward to an evening of Jeff but despite working hard he rarely found space to impress. This was thanks to an excellent defensive display from the MC DM’s. Nonetheless Jeff is comfortable on the ball and I predict will be a success at Arsenal.

Upfront Hinds and Maviiddi worked ceaselessly. Hinds plays like Chuba Akpom which is no surpirise. A Dutch chap named Marlen came on in the 60th minute and looked sharp, scored and generally impressed.

But my favourite player on the night was Chris Willock. Playing on the left he has obviously spent many hours watching Alexis Sanchez. He scored a neat goal and was a constant menace.

It is impossible to accurately predict how such young men will develop. I did not see any baby superstars like Rooney, Owen or Fabregas but we do have talent.

My guess, based upon very little, is that Bielik, Jeff and Willock will be the next ones to join the first team squad but what do I know?  I thought Glenn Helder would be the a Superstar!

Disclaimer: The above is based upon just one game with hardly any background research!

Bellerin to Barca?

April 30, 2015

Here’s the problem – every player dreams of playing for Barca or Real. Whatever we fans think about how wrong that may be, playing for either of the Spanish giants is the pinnacle of playing achievement.

This is especially true of Spanish players who can say that RM/Barca are in their DNA (total bolleaux). Let’s face it, if you are born in a Spanish speaking country, grow up with in a Spanish culture, eat Spanish food and listen to execrable Spanish music then it is highly likely that you will choose to return rather than freeze your buns off in the Premier League.


So why do the foreigners come to play in England? This has a one word answer …. Money, especially if they are not good enough to attract a top Spanish team.

In Bellerin’s case there is also opportunity; it is unlikely he would have played so many first team games at Barca at just 19 y.o.

My concern is that Bellerin is a major talent, almost certain to become one of the world’s best right backs and he is not only Spanish but a product of the Barca youth teams (much like an ex-Captain of ours). At Barca, Dani Alves is a shadow of the player he was, Montoya is not good enough hence Barca need a new right back – their solution is obvious.

Bellerin says ”

“If I had stayed in Barcelona I don’t know if I would have got to the top, the elite.

“I have worked as hard as I could and always with the mentality of going as far and as high as possible. Wherever I was I would have done the same.

“It’s great to play ‘at home’ and have everything where you’ve grown up,” he said of his decision to move abroad at 16, “but sometimes you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and discover new challenges.”

How will he feel when his agent says that Barca will double his wages? How will AFC respond to a €30m offer? Bellerin has a contract until 2017 and is currently in negotiations to extend which is good news.

But we all know he will return one day to fulfil his ambitions to play in his home country and it is for this reason that I make the following proposal …. our  foreign talent scouts forget Spain, Italy, France etc and concentrate on countries which no-one ever says “I am returning because they are in my DNA”. This is why the purchase of Bielik from Konin in Poland is such a fine move, he will never say “It has always been my dream to play for Legia Warszawa”. Or will he?

written by Big Raddy